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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) A home destroyed by landslide at Parkway Drive in North Salt Lake. A 2003 report found the area safe for development but warned of a clay bedrock that could result in landslides with too much water. A supplemental study submitted to the city contained no mention of the bedrock.
Slippery slopes: Booze, porn and collapsing houses ...

There are houses that slide down hills:

Utah law should crack down on unsafe building sites — Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

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"People who like to build houses on the sides of mountains are like people who like to keep tigers as domestic pets. They are beautiful and, if anything, the inherent danger just makes them more so.

"It doesn’t always end well.

"But, while government’s ability to protect the would-be Siegfrieds and Roys among us from themselves is limited, state and local officials should be doing more to make sure that people don’t, er, sink their life savings into a property that is likely to collapse into a soggy heap of rubble. ..."


There are suggestions that Utah’s Zion curtains may fall:

Will no Valentine open curtain? — Ogden Standard-Examiner Editorial

"Last week we learned that longtime Utah State Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, will soon be leaving that legislative body. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has selected Valentine to be the chairman of the Utah State Tax Commission. Valentine has a distinguished career and a thorough knowledge of our state’s tax system. He’ll probably do a fine job in that capacity.

"To us, though, there’s an even bigger significance to Valentine’s legislative exit. It may finally provide the impetus for Utah to tear down its Zion curtain. The exiting senator has used his significant influence, time after time, to keep Utah’s liquor excessively restrictive. He is the main reason that Utah has the embarrassing Zion curtain, in which tender eyes are prevented from viewing alcohol being mixed in state eateries. ..."

With Valentine’s Departure, The future of Alcohol and Tax Policy is Uncertain in Beehive State — Curtis Haring | Utah Political Capitol

" ... Valentine, who does not drink due to religious objections, none the less sought to find a balance in state alcohol policy by negotiating deals that were often seen as both pro and anti-booze at the same time – most notably in 2009 when Valentine worked with then-Governor Jon Huntsman to abolish private club legislation in bars and clubs but also erect the infamous "Zion Curtains" in restaurants in an attempt to separate alcohol preparation from diners. ..."


There are issues with commercialized sex, too free or not free enough:

Have advertisements gone too far in sexualizing teenagers? — Bethan Owen | The Deseret News

"American Apparel — the "sweatshop free" clothing store that often courts controversy in its advertising — has a new campaign that has some worried about the sexual exploitation of young girls, according to The Daily Mail. ..."

Porn law’s unintended consequences — Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial

"One of the most easily foreseeable consequences of Los Angeles County’s new ordinance requiring porn actors to wear condoms was the flight of the industry to other jurisdictions, either across the county line, state boundaries or even international borders. ...

" ... The prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is a vital public health concern. But the AIDS Healthcare Foundation should be careful what it wishes for. Porn producers say ordinances such as the one in Los Angeles County drive productions underground, which could prompt filmmakers to bypass the safety measures the industry has voluntarily undertaken to prevent the transmission of disease.

"A ban that won’t work as intended. Where have we heard that before?"

Playing the Prostitution Shame Game, With a Little Help From Hyperbole and Fear — The Dish

"…. By keeping prostitution illegal and demonizing all of its parties, we (you) are empowering pimps and human traffickers and anyone else who wants to victimize sex workers because they feel helpless under the law. ..."


And some folks still have cause to worry about, not a slippery slope, but a deliberate decline:

Idaho’s Race to the Bottom — Twin Falls (Idaho) Editorial

"It might be time for Idaho to update the state slogan. "Thank God for the South" has a nice ring to it.

"The impoverished, racially torn American South is the only thing standing between Idaho and worst-in-the-country status on a slew of indicators of public well-being. ..."

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